My Books



“I actually could not put the book down. It is well written and kept my interest. I want more from this author.”
Reader review of Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead on Amazon.com 

All books available in paperback and as e-books from major online bookstores.
See below on the right-hand side of this page for specific links to sellers.

Monday, August 26, 2019

From Minnie to Marilyn to Author

Sometimes it seems as though all I do on this blog is talk about my book(s), but I guess that kind of makes sense since this is, after all, my book blog. Once in a while, though, for a change of pace I like to talk about someone else’s book. This is such an occasion.

Back in January, through the magic of social media, I got re-acquainted with someone I had not heard from or about since I was in high school with her. She re-connected with me because she had noticed that I had been writing and publishing books. Like a lot of people, she had been wanting to write her own life story. In fact, she had already written the first chapter—thirty years earlier. But like a lot of people, that was as far as she had gotten. If she was going to finish her book and get it published, she would need some advice and—I think perhaps more importantly—some encouragement. Fortunately for her, I could offer plenty of both.

Now, just seven months later, Marilyn J. Thomas’s labor and efforts have borne fruit. She has just published her memoir, which is called From Minnie to Marilyn. It tells her story from beginning to now, from her earliest memories in California to her current life in Oklahoma. And it is a rather extraordinary life. Born to a mother that could not care for her, she was raised by her grandmother, who passed away when Minniejean (as she was then known) was just a toddler, casting her into the foster care system.

As a writer, Marilyn has a gift for allowing us to experience the memories seared into her brain and to see events from her point of view in the relevant time and place. In spite of the serious disadvantages life threw at her early on, she persevered not only to become the first of her family to graduate from high school but to become one of two student speakers at her graduation ceremony. Her story is of particular interest to me not only because she and I come from the same place but also because it is fascinating to see rural California in the 1950s and 1960s through the eyes of an African-American. As it turns out, she also has a connection to my current home in that one of her great-great-grandfathers was slaveholder descended from Irish immigrants, so she is also Irish-American.

Despite her early educational success, much more lay in store for Marilyn—some of it happy, some of it harrowing. As she herself writes, “I had literally lived three lives in one. Yes, I had survived two marriages, the death of a child, and about three near-death-like experiences. I had lost two sets of parents—my grandparents, Mother Wesley, and my parents who raised me—but I felt that through it all I had been blessed.”

I am so proud of and happy for Marilyn that she undertook and completed this project. I know well from my own experience that writing a book is an extremely daunting task. When it is your own life story that you are telling, there is a major burden of dealing with feelings of vulnerability as you reveal so many details of your life—some of them quite intimate—for all to see.

A memoir like this is not only a lovely legacy to leave to one’s family (you can see four generations of Marilyn’s family on the book cover), but it can also provide an educational and thought-provoking experience for other readers as well.

Way to go, Marilyn!

You can find From Minnie to Marilyn on Amazon.com. You can click on this link for the paperback version , and you can click on this link for the Kindle version.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Over the Hill

I have a problem with genres. I think I pretty well established that back when I wrote about how I could not get my head around the idea of the popular YA (Young Adult) genre. Having done that, of course, I then inexplicably went on to write what is to all intents and purposes a YA novel.

The Curse of Septimus Bridge is my second fantasy novel. The first one was The Three Towers of Afranor. Was it also a YA novel? I suppose, although it is not really like most of the examples I have seen of the YA genre. What is the difference between Afranor and Septimus? Well, mainly it boils down to the fact that Afranor takes place in an imaginary world (spoiler alert: it’s called Afranor) and Septimus takes place in our own recognizable world, specifically in Seattle, Vancouver, London, and Galway. But they both involve magic and the supernatural.

How do they differ from what I call my “odd” novels? Those are Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead and Lautaro’s Spear, and I refer to them as odd not because they are strange or unusual but because in the order my books have been written those are the ones which have numbers not evenly divisible by two. And in what genre do my odd novels fall? Well, there’s the rub. Depending on the context I have variously designated them as “adventure,” “coming of age,” “historical fiction,” and my personal favorite catch-all category, “literary fiction.”

If I were clever, I would have used a pseudonym for my fantasy novels. I am sure it is confusing for people wanting to pigeonhole me as a particular kind of writer to settle on what the “Scott R. Larson” brand is. But I do not use a pen name. I use the same name for everything I write. If you pick up a Scott R. Larson novel at random, you do not know what you are going to get. Kind of like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates. It might be about something about dragons and sorcerers. Or it might be something about 18-year-olds driving to Mexico in an old Chevy.

If I had planned things correctly, the name Scott R. Larson would be clearly identified exclusively with literary fiction and Bildungsromans, while if you were seeking a good fantasy book, you would know to look for the name (I just found this on an online random-author-pseudonym generator) Griffin Opel Johnson. Would you be more likely to pick up The Curse of Septimus Bridge if it was written by Griffin Opel Johnson? I know I would.

So there are drawbacks to using one’s own name on one’s own books. There are also drawbacks to using real places—as I did in Septimus—in your book as opposed to just making up places—as I did in Afranor. For example, if you set your book in Seattle, you run the risk of some reader writing to tell you, “Hey, there is no Metro bus running from that street to that other street.” Or “There is no possible way you can sail from Shilshole to such-and-such place in just a couple of hours.”

It gets even trickier if you start using places in the West of Ireland. For example, my wife—who never reads my book until after they are actually published—was aghast to find some local place names mentioned. “You are going to draw Satanists on us,” she insisted. “The neighbors won’t like that.” You never hear people in Seattle complain about Satanists being drawn on them.

In particular Cnoc Meadha, an imposing hill in County Galway, gets singled out as a specific point of earthly contact with the demon world. Do people in the area mind me tagging that place with an unhallowed reputation? No one has complained yet, but that could well be because they have not seen the book. Personally, I think they might actually welcome some notoriety. There is an ongoing Knockma Hill Project (Knockma being the common modern version of the hill’s name) to implement improvements and a new trail. The project is driven by the Caherlistrane-Kilcoona Community Council and funded by a grant under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme supplemented by the local Community Council. Additional money was raised by a Christmas concert in December by well-known singer and musician Seán Keane and his band.

Publicity can help raise money, and no publicity is bad publicity, right?

The accompanying photos were taken at Knockma during a morning walk a few weeks ago. For the record, no demons were encountered.